Good Friday – the day when Jesus took His final breath on the cross then bowed His head and gave up His spirit. John recounts in his gospel Jesus’ final words, “It is finished.” The beauty and richness of Christ’s death on the cross is powerful fuel for our lives as Christ followers. He died the death that we deserved to die, and paid the price we could not pay. Christ, as the ultimate sacrifice for His people, gave up His spirit to death as the Son of God. His surrender and separation from the Father sufficiently paid the debt of our sins against a Holy God – completely covered for now and eternity.
Clinging to Hope in the Silence
This hope found at the cross of Christ is what gives the Christ follower boldness, courage and conviction to follow after God’s glorious mission no matter the cost. But Good Friday wasn’t truly “good” nor hopeful until the silence was broken on Sunday.
Once Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross, there was silence. God the Father had “forsaken” (Matthew 27:46) Jesus His Son, as Jesus took on the full weight of our sin. Silence remained for 3 days after Jesus’ dead body was taken off the cross, wrapped in burial cloths, and sealed behind a great stone in a tomb.
Once Jesus died on Friday, we see the preparation and burial plans made by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (John 19:38-42), but then Scripture goes silent. This silence mirrors the end of the Old Testament when almost 400 years passed before another word was recorded in Scripture. The end of the Old Testament records the Israelites still looking for the long awaited Messiah. Clinging on to hope, they were waiting for God to intervene in their languishing. And now, here are Jesus’ followers, especially the eleven, clinging on to similar hope with nothing but silence.
Looking back 2000+ years later, we see what happens after the silence. We know the hope of Sunday morning just two days away. But imagine being the disciples or one of the Marys. They knew that Jesus had promised His return, but doubt had to be filling their minds with each hour that passed. Had they been incorrect? Had something gone wrong? Were they truly just foolish fishermen, tax collectors, and village women? Oh, but for the joy of victory which broke the silence!
Joy and Victory in the Resurrection
It was Mary Magdalene that first discovered her Messiah’s body was missing and then gloriously came face to face with her risen Lord on Easter morning. The joy she must have felt to see Jesus and to know that He had truly conquered pain, death, and sin once and for all!
Oh beloved, it was the joy of the resurrection that made Good Friday so gloriously good. Without Easter morning, the cross on Friday was just another Roman execution to end the week. But with Sunday morning came an ultimate victory, a victory that completely realigns and readjusts our lives. The hope of the resurrection gives us everlasting courage and conviction to follow Jesus completely!
At Lifeline, our heart is to equip to the body of Christ to manifest the gospel of the cross to vulnerable women, families and children. Our service to orphans and vulnerable children cannot be fueled by our moral acts, but only by the victory of the cross. The gospel truly gives us courage and conviction to defend the defenseless- the orphan, widow, poor, and needy.
Romans 11:33-36, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Courage in our Adoptions
We have great confidence because we serve a God who is above all things and sovereignly in control of all things – Easter proves this once and for all. We are the adopted children of our Father God, and our Daddy owns it all. Our inheritance comes through the blood of Christ alone, through faith alone, and not of our own works, lest any of us should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So beloved, we have great courage to risk everything that we have, because we have confidence that the Lord will give us everything that we need. When we follow Christ, we get God. He is our inheritance and that should create great courage. We serve Him not to earn our faith but because through our faith we earn access to God. We follow Him to the ends of the earth. Any difficulty we experience on this side of heaven is worth it. We are rich in Christ, so we persevere in whatever the Lord calls us to do. We don’t wring our hands in fear because we know who our Daddy is, and we are confident in Him.
In the Psalms, King David speaks of the “steadfast love of the Lord” which brings us great security. So many of David’s writings show hope, courage, and conviction because they are pointing to the reality of the cross, the resurrection, and our salvation. Oh, the foreshadowing of the cross and courage found in Psalm 36:1-9:
Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil. Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Beloved, our security is found in the glory of the cross of Good Friday, and this should woo us closer to Jesus and His mission. The Gospel of King Jesus invites us, beckons us, and commands us to join in the Father’s plan to restore the least of these.
What Easter Means for the Least of These
The least of these are birthmothers’ who choose life for their unborn child and then place their children for adoption. The least of these are children who have been removed from their homes into foster care, as well as their parents who are living through a generational sin and curse. And the least of these are children around the world who have been orphaned because of physical, emotional, or social reasons.
At Lifeline, we long for a day when “the least of these” will experience the transforming love of Jesus, when the Gospel transforms their communities, and a day when former orphans are themselves making disciples of Jesus.
Today, our response to the glory of Christ’s resurrection cannot be silence. We cannot apathetically sit on the sidelines, because Good Friday and Easter release us to live with reckless abandon for the high calling to make the Gospel known to every tribe, tongue, and people.
Will you join us? We need you to lean into the hope of Jesus offered on this Easter weekend and partner with Lifeline in our mission to manifest the gospel to orphans and vulnerable children.
Has the Lord put your family in a place to adopt or foster a precious child in need and, in so doing, disciple them in the Gospel of Christ? Has the Lord burdened you with His command in James 1:27 to care for orphans in distress? If so, partner with Lifeline today. Visit LifelineChild.org to donate to the cause, to apply to adopt, to sign up for a trip to visit orphans in need through our (un)adopted ministry, to apply to be a foster parent for a child in U.S. foster care, to volunteer in one of many ways for the sake of orphans, and ultimately to partner with us as we seek to take the Hope of Easter to the fatherless.
Please do not hesitate to give Lifeline a call because we are here…
…to defend the fatherless.
Written by: Herbie Newell, President and Executive Director of Lifeline Children’s Services. Herbie has served orphan and vulnerable children with the gospel for 15 years. He leads our organization to passionately defend the fatherless and bring the gospel forth to all nations.